THE MARRIAGE TRIANGLE: Journey or Destination?

Please visit TRC to read more of the great articles in this issue!

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Life has lots of ups and downs. No surprise there, right? Some seasons have more valleys than mountains, but one thing God has taught me is that the journey is more important than the destination. I believe this can be applied to marriage, too.

The Destination

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Life is a journey, not a destination. –Ralph Waldo Emerson

We all desire perfect marriages, but that’s an unreasonable expectation. We are human. We make human mistakes. Sometimes, we take things too personally. Other times we react irrationally to something because of other things going on in our lives (or our selfish, prideful human nature gets in the way).

Put together a man and a woman—two sinful, selfish, and prideful people who are prone to making mistakes—and what do you have? A recipe for disaster, unless Jesus is at the helm.

If we start our marriages thinking we’ve already arrived, what happens when the reality of life kicks in? Many of us put so much effort into our wedding that we forget about life after the honeymoon. We go back to work to pay the bills. The car breaks down and needs some major work. We experience job cutbacks, or maybe lose our jobs. How do we pay the bills?

Here’s the thing: The journey is how we get to our destination, which is to love and serve God and each other.

If we truly look to Jesus first in our marriage, He will walk with us through this ongoing, daily journey.

In the same way that you deepen and grow in your relationship with your spouse, you need to mature in your relationship with God. It is more than a journey of feeling. It is also a journey of faith. You are in this for the long-term. Let’s finish this race well! 1

The Journey

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It is good to have an end to journey toward; 
but it is the journey that matters, in the end. 

–Ernest Hemingway

God uses marriage to mold us into His image by teaching us how to serve Him by serving our spouse.

I’ve written before about how much my life has changed since chronic pain and illness came to live with me. Summers are the worst for my symptoms because of the monsoon season and the accompanying barometric pressure fluctuations in Arizona. For me, this means 24/7 migraines for months at a time.

My sweet husband, Rick, does his best to take care of me during those times. Often there is nausea that goes along with these migraines and I just can’t eat much. I certainly do not feel up to cooking a meal. Although Rick doesn’t cook, he is content with freezer meals and entrees that microwave in minutes, or he’ll go get some fast food.

Rick has also gotten used to going places without me, something neither of us love. If we do make plans to visit friends, eat out, go for a day trip on our trike, or even go to church, there are too many times that I’ve had to tell him I just cannot go. He never makes me feel guilty or sad about it either. He serves me well by supporting me this way. We are a huggy couple, and one of his best ways of serving me is to give me a gentle bear hug when I need it most. It soothes and comforts me.

I try to serve Rick the best I can while dealing with these chronic pain issues. I remember to make the bed (almost everyday) and do my best to keep up with the laundry. On a semi-good day, I go to our local grocery store because it’s only about five miles away, and pick up foods that are easy to warm up or microwave. I often cannot do much, but I manage to keep the refrigerator, freezer and pantry stocked.

Part of the marriage journey is to learn more about about Jesus as you learn more about each other every day. You both went into your marriage with high hopes and much love. How does that translate into an everyday relationship?

Husbands and wives, what does your marriage journey look like? Are you truly enjoying learning more about each other each day?

Daily life these days is a rush to get everything done before it’s time to go to bed. It’s important to make time for each other without any distractions, including computers and mobile devices. Turn those off and turn to each other. Learn to savor each moment together. That is an important part of your marriage journey.

In the process of learning more about each other, you’ll find yourselves seeking the wisdom of Jesus as you daily put your trust in Him as the head of your marriage. And that can only improve your marriage relationship.

As believers in Jesus Christ, we who are the bride of Christ wait with great anticipation for the day when we will be united with our Bridegroom. Until then, we remain faithful to Him and say with all the redeemed of the Lord,
“Come, Lord Jesus!”
(Revelation 22:20). 2


Greg Laurie, Harvest Daily Devotion, For the Long-Term.
GotQuestions.org, What does it mean that the church is the bride of Christ?

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Six Steps for Resolving Conflict in Marriage

This article by Dennis Rainey of Family Life contains some wonderful advice and goes along well with my Marriage Triangle series of articles which I write for TRC (The Relevant Christian).

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Six Steps for Resolving
Conflict in Marriage

By Dennis Rainey

There is no way to avoid conflict in your marriage.
The question is: How will you deal with it?

Few couples like to admit it, but conflict is common to all marriages. We have had our share of conflict and some of our disagreements have not been pretty. We could probably write a book on what not to do!

Start with two selfish people with different backgrounds and personalities. Now add some bad habits and interesting idiosyncrasies, throw in a bunch of expectations, and then turn up the heat a little with the daily trials of life. Guess what? You are bound to have conflict. It’s unavoidable.

Since every marriage has its tensions, it isn’t a question of avoiding them but ofhow you deal with them. Conflict can lead to a process that develops oneness or isolation. You and your spouse must choose how you will act when conflict occurs.

Step One: Resolving conflict requires knowing, accepting, and adjusting to your differences. 

One reason we have conflict in marriage is that opposites attract. Usually a task-oriented individual marries someone who is more people-oriented. People who move through life at breakneck speed seem to end up with spouses who are slower-paced. It’s strange, but that’s part of the reason why you married who you did. Your spouse added a variety, spice, and difference to your life that it didn’t have before. 

Read the rest here, and while you’re on the Family Life site, please take the time to browse the great articles and resources there.

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The Marriage Triangle: Love and Respect

Please visit TRC to read more of the great articles in this issue!

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The Marriage Triangle:
Love and Respect

by Anna Popescu

A vital aspect of a mutually happy marriage is when a couple treats each other as God intended. God created men and women with different talents, desires and relationship needs. Husbands and wives need to honor each other by assuming the marital roles as God designed them.

Women crave love from their husbands.

Men need to feel respected by their wives.

Add “no matter what” to both of those statements!

A key element in this is the dreaded word, “submission.” I’m sure all Christian married couples have read Paul’s lessons on this, and let’s just say that many of us cringe when the Ephesians passage about this comes up in a sermon. It never fails to cause many husbands to elbow their wives when the words “submission” and “respect” surface.

So let’s review what Paul has to say on this subject in Ephesians 5:21-33, below (all emphasis is mine). This is where we learn about submission as it relates to marriage. Ladies, bear with me as I uncover several parts of this important topic. It isn’t only about us needing to submit to our husbands!

 

21 and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.

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This love and respect aspect of the marriage relationship is a huge part of biblical submission in marriage, and not just for the wives. Husbands and wives are to love and respect each other as partners in the covenant union they share with Jesus Christ.

That is what the Marriage Triangle is all about, and this is clearly shown in verse 21. Husbands and wives are to be subject to (submit to) each other.

Note that the command of verse 21 (submit to one another) actually applies to every member of the body of Christ. Paul is saying there is a mutual submission in the body of Christ that carries over into the family relationships. The husband shows his submission to the wife by his sacrificial love for her. His role is like that of Christ in John 13, where He girded Himself and washed the disciples’ feet, accepting the lowest task it was possible for Him to perform on their behalf.1

Though not submitting to his wife as a leader, a believing husband must submit to the loving duty of being sensitive to the needs, fears, and feelings of his wife. In other words, a Christian husband needs to subordinate his needs to hers, whether she is a Christian or not.2

Now we move on to how wives are to be subject to (submit to) their husbands. Don’t stop reading yet, Ladies!

 

22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord.

23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body.

24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.

Did you get that?

We wives are to be subject to our husbands as the head of our marriage, just as we are to submit to the Lord Jesus Christ as the Head of the Church (His bride). If we are believers in the saving grace of Jesus Christ, we are a part of that Church. As such, we are all to submit to Jesus out of reverence and respect for Him and His position as head of the Church.

The wife shows her submission to her husband by following his leadership, “For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church” (v. 23).

The marital relationship is more intimate, personal, and inward than that of a master and slave. That is indicated in Ephesians 5:22 by the phrase “your own husbands.” The husband-wife relationship is built on an intimate possessiveness.3

I love this next part:

The verse seems to imply that it is assumed the wife would willingly respond in submission to one whom she possesses.3

Wives, you possess your husband as much as he possesses you! Have you ever thought of it that way before? Not as in a material possession. It is more in the manner of belonging completely to each other.

By the same token, husbands are instructed to love their wives.

I know; you’re probably wondering why Paul needed to tell husbands what they already know and feel: that they love their wives. But read on to see exactly how husbands are supposed to love their wives.

 

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her,

26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,

27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.

28 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself;

29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church,

30 because we are members of His body.

31 For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.

32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.

The husband is to love his wife “just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her” (verse 25). Yes, a husband loves his wife, but this is a different facet of that love, deeper and more a part of that covenant marriage relationship we share with Jesus.

A husband is to love his wife with the same selfless love that Jesus had for His bride when He willingly died for our sins. This kind of love means the husband is to cherish his wife, treating her with tenderness, treasuring her and desiring to nurture her.

First, the loving husband gives of himself. In his leadership role as head, he seeks to lead by giving of himself to his wife in ways analogous to how Christ gave Himself to His bride. Christ’s giving of Himself was personal and sacrificial. This great principle of self-giving sets the tone and points toward the many ways in which this love can be manifested and realized.

Second, Christ’s giving of Himself was for the benefit of His bride—He gave Himself up “for her.” Just so, the husband’s self-giving should be for his wife’s benefit. In short, we may speak of this love as a giving of oneself for the benefit of the other.4

 

And the wife is to “see to it that she respects her husband” (verse 33).

All of us who are believers in and followers of Jesus Christ should respect Jesus’ role as the Head of His bride, the Church. But in this verse, Paul is particularly speaking to the wives and encouraging us to respect our husbands and esteem them as the head of our marriage—just as we respect and esteem Jesus Christ as the Head of His Church.

33 Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.

The respect asked of a wife recognizes the God-given character of the headship of her husband and thus treats him with dutiful regard and deference. Just as husbands have been asked to display their headship through likeness to Christ’s headship over His church, that is, through a love that cherishes and nourishes (verse 25, 28, 29), so now wives are asked to render their submission in a way that is most like that of the submission of the church to Christ, that is, a truly respectful submission because it is rendered voluntarily from the heart.

A wife’s respecting her husband and his headship therefore implies that her submission involves not only what she does but also her attitude in doing it. As with the husband, so with the wife, it is the heart’s attitude of grateful acceptance of the role God assigns to each and the determination to fulfill the particular role with all the graciousness God gives that Paul is urging on both wives and husbands in this last verse of his instruction.4

This is admittedly a hard lesson to learn when all around us society is eroding the concept of Biblical marriage as created by God.

Rick and I were talking about this recently, about how the media (especially TV) loves to portray the husband as a doofus who has no control over his household, and the wife, as the one who is in charge of the family because she always knows what is best. These are dangerous role models for men and women to follow because they are the exact opposite of what God has ordained for husbands and wives.

StLoveEachOtherCoupleEmbracingrive to stay strong in your marriage. Love each other with the kind of love Jesus has for His bride, the Church.

Husbands, love your wife as Jesus loves His Church. Wives, respect your husband just like you respect Jesus as the Head of the Church.

Here’s verse 33 once again, but I’ve emphasized certain parts to make a point:

33 Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.

The point? Husbands and wives each have God-mandated responsibilities in marriage so that they will get along better and resolve disagreements in a God-honoring way.

Sure, there will be times when it will not be easy to remember how we are to Biblically treat or respond to our spouse. Those are the times to take our focus off of ourselves and the difficulty we’re going through, and instead, place that focus on Jesus Christ, the head of our marriage.


1Grace to You, “The Role of Women”

2Grace to You, “What Does it Mean to Dwell With Your Wife With Understanding?”

3GraceToYou.org, “Answering the Key Questions About the Family”

4Bible.org, “Husbands and Wives as Analogues of Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5:21 and Colossians 3:18-19)”

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Your Marriage is Not a Hollywood Romance

I’ve been writing a column titled “The Marriage Triangle” for The Relevant Christian Magazine (TRC). I like to share articles I find about marriage in between publication of The Marriage Triangle articles. This is a good one from The Intentional Life

Your Marriage is Not a Hollywood Romance

It may seem a paradox, but marriage is more important than love. Why? Because marriage is the normal situation out of which true and abiding love arises. The popular notion, championed by fiction and motion pictures, is that love is primary, and marriage is nothing more than a dull anticlimax. Nothing could be further from the truth. I’ve found that real love hardly exists outside the context of marriage. How could it? Real love is a slow growth coming from unity of life and purpose. Love is a product. It is the thing to be created by mutual service and sacrifice.

Read more here.

Please check out the The Marriage Triangle tab here to read more articles about marriage.

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The Marriage Triangle: Friendship

The Marriage Triangle: Friendship

by Anna Popescu

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In my first article in the last edition of TRC, I wrote about how marriage is a covenant with these seven elements:

  1. Two lives become one.
  2. There is a sign to remember which serves as a witness and a memorial.
  3. There is a change in name.
  4. There is a meal shared.
  5. There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
  6. There are witnesses to testify.
  7. There is a covenant partner to defend.

For this edition, I am going to focus on number five concerning friendship.

A Friend Who Sticks Closer Than a Brother

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One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. —Proverbs 18:24

Let’s start by defining the word friend:

  • a patron
  • a supporter
  • an advocate
  • an ally
  • a person attached to another by feeling of affection or personal regard
  • a person who gives assistance

Jesus Christ, the friend referred to in Proverbs 18:24, is all the above. He is the best friend we could or will ever have!

Friend is a covenant term and is beautifully seen in God’s covenant with Abraham. In 2 Chronicles 20, there is a marvelous account of God’s deliverance of Judah’s king, Jehoshaphat. Upon hearing of the enemy’s advance against him, King Jehoshaphat cried out to God, appealing to His covenant relationship with Israel and reminding Him of who He is and of His great power. 1

In contrast, here are some antonyms (opposites):

  • an antagonist
  • an enemy
  • a foe
  • an opponent
  • a detractor

If you are married, your best friend here on earth should be your spouse. So who would you rather have for a spouse?

Someone who supports you or someone who is your enemy?

We all start out in marriage believing we will always support each other. At that moment, when we utter those two special words, I do, we love each other so much that we truly believe nothing will ever change between us. We are absolutely sure that our love will overcome any obstacle that comes our way.

Reality steps in: Jobs, our family and friends, financial problems, a new baby, and health problems.

What then?

These are the times when you need your best friend by your side so you can support each other. But if your relationship doesn’t start out as a friendship, it may be difficult to work through the tough times.

In my first article, I wrote that Rick and I met online. We lived about 600 miles apart so the bulk of our courtship was conducted online. We met in person four months after we started emailing each other, and two months after that, we became engaged. Five months later, we were married in a covenant ceremony. How could we possibly become best friends in such a short time and living so far apart?

One of the things Rick tells people about those months leading to our wedding is that, because we talked on the phone and emailed each other so often, we learned a lot about each other. It would probably have taken even longer if we had been able to see each other on a frequent basis. We shared our beliefs, ideas and thoughts through those phone calls and emails, and we were able to get to know each other well without all the physical “stuff” that often gets in the way.

Real life happened for us as we started to live together as a married couple.

The Honeymoon is Over

It doesn’t matter if you are in your 20’s, 30’s or older when you get married. You both bring to the marriage your pasts, beliefs, behaviors, hurts and emotions. Things happen to all of us as we grow up that color our thinking and actions, good and bad. In a perfect world, we are all brought up with wonderfully nurturing families. We treat our family members with utter love and respect. There is never an angry word passed among us, and all is right in our world.

Seriously?

Beloved, we are humans who do not always get the kind of family we would love to have. That “right” world?

Heaven.

Our earthly lives are filled with frustrations, anger, jealousy and a whole bunch of other not-so-nice emotions. We carry this baggage around with us until we meet that certain someone who is perfect for us. And because we are perfect for each other, we will never have any arguments or differences of opinion.

Reality Check

Oh, if it was only that easy! On this side of heaven, there will always be conflict. It is how we handle those conflicts that makes all the difference.

A marriage is made up of two imperfect people, each with their own idea of how things get done. You may be a very neat person who cannot abide clutter while your spouse is fine with the house being a bit untidy but does not do well with an unbalanced checkbook. You could waste time and emotion arguing or nagging about these things or you could find ways together to compromise so that neither of you is giving up anything.

If you are the one who can’t stand clutter, you might agree on an area in your house that is okay if it is a bit of a mess—such as  laundry room, one of the bedrooms or the garage. On the other hand, if you feel a sense of panic when the checkbook does not balance, you could consider letting your spouse take over that task. These are only suggestions for compromise because there are many other scenarios that you could work out together.

So What is a Best Friend?

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“My best friend is the one who brings out the best in me.” —Author Unknown

Didn’t each of us have a best friend when we were growing up? You know, that person who completely understood you and all your quirks but loved you anyway. The one who let you rant when things were unfair at home. The one who might disagree with you about something but never let that get in the way of your friendship.

Why can’t spouses be that for each other? We live together so why shouldn’t we be best friends?

Awhile back, I was listening to a talk show about marriage. I don’t remember the names of the husband and wife who were being interviewed, but the subject really interested me: how to have a good marriage in spite of the little things that irritate you about your spouse.

I was alone while listening to this interview, but I laughed out loud as the husband said something about how the cute and endearing little things that you love about your spouse while you were courting begin to grate on you after you’ve been married awhile. Two other things this couple said affected me:

  • They compared marriage to being in a canoe. When you’re single and in a canoe by yourself, it’s easy to control your canoe. But when there are two of you in that canoe, every single movement from each person can easily cause the canoe to flip if both people do not work together.
  • We too often grant a full cup of grace to friends and family who do not live with us, while offering only a partial cup of grace to our spouse.

If we consider our spouse to be our best earthly friend, why aren’t we treating them better than anyone else? We can get through sticky situations by talking things out and being open to compromise. If you love each other, it shouldn’t be very difficult to keep in mind what makes your spouse feel more comfortable about a situation.

Here’s an example from Rick and me. When we first got married, I used those air fresheners that you plug into the wall. I placed them in several rooms of our home. Some were not as visible as others, but the one in our bedroom was right under the window and easily seen. Every morning for about a week, I would find that air freshener plug on the floor under the outlet, so I would plug it back in. The first couple of times I thought Rick had unplugged it so he could vacuum in there, but after the fourth day, I began to stew about it. Why did he have to be so mean about something so simple? Maybe he didn’t like the fragrance I chose, so why didn’t he just tell me?

I calmed myself before I asked him these questions because I didn’t want it to be a confrontation. I just needed to know why. It turned out that Rick was worried about those being a fire hazard. When I asked him why he hadn’t just told me that, he shrugged and said he thought I’d take the hint after the first couple of days, and didn’t think it was worth talking about.

After I thought about that, I realized the reasons why he thought the air fresheners could be a fire hazard did not count. What did is that he believed it was a fire hazard, and that was enough for me. So we never used those plug-ins again.

My point here is that even though something might seem irrational or unreasonable to you, your spouse might have a perfectly realistic explanation.  We just need to take the time to find out the reasons before we begin to accuse.

Beloved, marriage can be wonderful… or not so much–depending on how loved and cherished spouses make each other feel. Try to keep in mind that marriage triangle where Jesus is at the top and each of you are at the bottom looking up to Jesus to lead you together.

1 PreceptAustin.org: The Covenant of Marriage

 

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7 Commandments of a Great Marriage

Since I started writing the Marriage Triangle column for The Relevant Christian Magazine (TRC), I’ve come across many wonderful articles about how to have a great marriage. I’ll be sharing those here every so often, and will add each article to my Marriage Triangle tab here.

This first one is a wonderful article about marriage by Ron Edmondson, who is a contributing blog writer for the BibleStudyTools site. My favorite line from his article: 

Marriage is not a 50/50 deal. It’s a 100/100 deal—each willing to surrender all to the other person.

If you are married and want the best marriage possible—in other words, the kind of marriage God calls us to have—please read Ron Edmondson’s article.

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7 Commandments of a Great Marriage

by Ron Edmondson

I have an advanced degree in counseling and hundreds of hours experience working with couples. I’ve taught marriage retreats for years. I wouldn’t say I’m an “expert” in marriage—because I’m married—and my wife reads my blog. That would be a stretch. Actually, I know more to do than I have the practice of doing. (Isn’t that true for most of us?)

But I’ve learned a few things. I’ve observed things that work and things that don’t.

I think there are some necessary ingredients for a healthy marriage. That’s the point of this post.

Want a healthier marriage?

Read the rest here.

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The advertising which may appear below is not placed by the author and is not to be considered as a part of this post or an expression of my views.

The Marriage Triangle

The Marriage Triangle

by Anna Popescu

Does the title of this column seem a bit risqué? Well, it could be but read on to find out what it’s really all about.

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Marriage is a very strong yet fragile bond. That makes it somewhat of a paradox. I’m guessing all husbands and wives enter into marriage with the intent of staying true to their vows, but eventually real life breaks in. What started out as a strong union can begin to unravel, and that’s when it becomes fragile.

Many couples manage to stay married for many years. Barbara and George H. W. Bush recently celebrated 70 years together. It is obvious that their marriage has stayed strong in spite of the inevitable rough patches we all go through. How did they—and how do countless other couples—stay true to their vows?

I have been married twice. My first marriage lasted 23 years and I have two very wonderful children from that marriage. The marriage ended because my ex-husband no longer wanted me in his life. However, in retrospect, that was not really why we divorced. We had a long history of reacting badly to each other.

Let me explain. When one of us had an issue with the other, we did try to talk it out but more often ended up yelling at each other. That kept us at an impasse, and all those impasses accumulated into one big boatload. Oh, we gave the appearance that all was well with us as a couple, but the reality in our home was something else altogether.

I had given my life and my heart to Jesus Christ about 10 years after we were married, but I allowed myself to backslide for many years for reasons best left unsaid here. The huge turning point in my life happened after I was divorced. Almost 18 years after being saved, I finally returned to the Lord, rededicated my life to Jesus Christ, made my public testimony and was baptized. This changed everything for me, and I vowed that I would always live for Jesus.

Wedding photo w-Kathy&AlanA few years after that, I met Rick, and we were married in a special covenant ceremony at the home of a very dear friend. Those are my children, Alan and Kathy, in this photo taken at our wedding. We recently celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary and are still going strong in spite of some circumstances we never would have predicted. You can read the story of how we met online here.

Here are some excerpts about covenants and the covenant marriage ceremony at preceptaustin.org1, one of my favorite sites:

♥ Covenant as defined by the Scriptures is a solemn and binding relationship which is meant to last a life time.

♥ In ancient times, covenant was the most solemn and binding agreement into which two parties could enter.

♥ In the Covenant of Marriage remember the following truths…

  1. Two lives become one. In covenant, you become identified with the other individual, and there is a supernatural commingling of two lives.
  2. There is a sign to remember which serves as a witness and a memorial. When you enter a covenant with your beloved, the sign is usually a ring which serves as a constant reminder (memorial) of the solemn and binding marriage covenant.
  3. There is a change in name. As the wife takes on her husband’s name, this change symbolizes the supernatural identity and oneness God intended for the partners who had entered the marriage covenant.
  4. There is a meal shared. Biblical covenants were often commemorated with a “covenant meal.” [Husbands and wives] will celebrate your new covenant relationship by feeding each other wedding cake which is a picture that you are now sharing a common life, that two lives have become one.
  5. There is a friend who will stick closer than a brother. Friend is a covenant term and is beautifully seen in God’s covenant with Abraham. “… and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God” (James 2:23).
  6. There are witnesses to testify. In the Old Testament, the solemnity of a “cutting covenant” was often witnessed by setting up a memorial or sign. “So now come, let us make a covenant, you and I, and let it be a witness between you and me.” Then Jacob took a stone and set it up as a pillar” (Genesis 31:44-45).
  7. There is a covenant partner to defend. Webster’s definition of the verb to defend = to protect a person from harm or danger. To keep safe from attack. To cover. To shield. To safeguard. To shelter. To support someone in the face of an onslaught of criticism (how often do we criticize our covenant partner rather than lovingly defending them from criticism?).

We’ll explore each of these items in more detail in the future.

One of the things that Rick and I talked about during our courtship is crucial to our commitment to stay married no matter what. Rick had never been married before and would say, “I am only going to be married once.” Since I had previously been married, I would reply, “I am only going to be married once more.”

So Rick and I started out with the right foundation, but still butted heads from time to time as all married couples do. We would fall back on the illustration of the orange given to us by our premarital counseling pastor. If you take an orange and rip it in half with your hands (versus cutting it), you have two pieces with very jagged edges. That orange can only fit back together one way—by fitting those uneven edges together exactly. That’s the way the husband and wife work together within a marriage. The strengths of one may be the weaknesses of the other, but fitted together—in other words, by working together—they can solve a problem or complete a task that one of them may not have been able to do alone.

Rick and I love the example of the orange, and have remembered that image many times. We have a great marriage but we are no different than countless other married couples. We still sometimes struggle with some silly, sometimes stupid, ridiculous things that can build up to cause a heated discussion or argument. The single greatest thing we have learned is that to have the best marriage possible, we need to remember that we are each at the bottom corners of a very special triangle in which Jesus is at the top. We call this The Marriage Triangle.

It is very easy to get into a fiery argument by focusing on our own selves and our own agenda. We’ve all done this. We get so involved in what we’re trying to communicate to our spouse (maybe very loudly?) that we forget what brought us together in the first place.

The triangle image above is a great way to show that husbands and wives are to keep their eyes focused on Jesus rather than just on each other. What happens because of that is the more time we each spend focusing on Jesus and His will and plan for both of us, the better and closer our relationship with Jesus will become. And the closer we walk with Jesus, the closer we get to each other.

Rick and I know this to be true in our marriage, and are absolutely thankful for this truth. It has also helped defuse many an argument when we stop to consider that Jesus is watching and listening to every single word that pours out of our angry, frustrated mouths. And even when we forget to look up to Jesus, it is only because we have become closer to Him that we still remember—most times—to stop and take a break. There is a lot of praying and thinking that goes on during that break, and we always come back together by asking forgiveness for speaking so carelessly. After that we are able to calmly continue the discussion until we’ve figured things out.

Beloved, God wants us to live in a harmonious marriage. He created marriage to be between a man and a woman. He knows everything, so He also realizes that the inevitable problems will arise. However, He has provided us with ways to help our marriages become stronger in spite of the hurdles or difficulties.

That’s what this column will be all about, and I’m looking forward to writing about the ways in which God can help all of our marriages become even better!

“The first secret to loving others is to immerse yourself in a love relationship with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit—and abide there.” —Anne Graham Lotz


1 PreceptAustin.org: The Covenant of Marriage